Croeser, Hill join Karkloof MTB fest

2014-05-06 00:00

RENOWNED KwaZulu-Natal mountain bike talents Rourke Croeser and Andrew Hill have added their names to the already impressive list of title contenders for Sunday’s Sappi 60km Marathon, the feature race of the Sappi Karkloof MTB Festival that takes place this weekend at the Karkloof Country Club in KZN’s Midlands.

With defending champ Brendon Davids of Trek SA having already confirmed he will be on the start line and eager to defend his crown, TIB Insurance’s Hill and Croeser of Kargo Pro MTB Team’s attendance have created even greater interest in the front-of-the-field clash on Sunday.

“Karkloof is a major one for us!” confirmed Croeser. “It’s a big one for the team and it’s up to Trav [Walker] and I to work together and try get the better of the likes of Brendon [Davids] and Phillip [Buys] to get the win for the team!”

“Brendon, Rourke, possibly Gert [Heyns] and maybe even some of the Cape guys like Charles Keey, Waylon Woolcock and Darren Lill who are looking to set up their base ahead of the Marathon World Champs in PMB in June I’m sure will all be at Karkloof so it really will be an incredibly strong field this year!” added Hill.

While the spotlight may be on those at the sharp end of the 60 km event, the quality of the trails hosting the weekend’s riding is what the event has become known for and Croeser is once again looking forward to returning to twists and turns through the Sappi plantations and surrounds.

“Karkloof has some of the best trails in the world!” enthused the Kargo star. “It is probably one of the best marathon courses on the South African circuit so I’m really looking forward to racing there again!”

Hill too is relishing the clash and feels his recent ultra-marathon hit out at last weekend’s MTN National MTB Series event in Clarens won’t hamper his ability to compete with some of his slightly younger, more cross-country-focused competitors.

“After Clarens its two days of complete rest and then two days of high- intensity training trying to get the speed up a bit and then it’s time to race. Cross-country, marathon and ultras are three very different types of riding but after all this time of changing between the various distances, the body gets used to the different racing distances as well as all the travelling. Karkloof is only 60 kilometres so it’s a short, quick race that probably suits the cross-country specialists a little better.

“I’m expecting some of the guys will look to really go hard out of the gates to try shake the numbers early so it’s all about trying to stick with them at that pace for as long as possible because us longer distance riders can’t rely on our endurance helping us reel them in later on in such a quick race” said the TIB Insurance rider.

With Friday night’s Karkloof Night Race, Saturday’s Stihl Karkloof Enduro and a wide variety of distances to choose from on Sunday, the festival has something for everyone.

The event’s status as one of only four qualifying events for the inaugural Rainbow Challenge — the age group equivalent to the elite’s marathon worlds, which takes place on Saturday, June 28 — is also likely to see increased levels of competition amongst all of the age groups.

Riders and spectators can follow news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB) or at www.kar­

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